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“Vessel Three-three-six-nine you are cleared to land.”

“Thanks, doll. You free later?”

“Captain Outland?”


“Captain Alexander Napoleon Outland?”

“That’s me. But you can call me Nap, babe. That’s what all my friends, and satisfied ladies throughout the galaxy, call me.”

“From me and all the rest of Thurge Mission Control—don’t flatter yourself.”

“Normally, it’s the ladies offering the flattering remarks, doll.”

“Captain Outland?”


“Shut up or I’ll direct you to land in an active volcano.”

Touchy. Of course, it could have been due to my activities the last time I was here. “You’re not Zahara, are you?”

“No. And you should thank your world’s god that I’m not.”

Well, one potential nightmare avoided. “Why so, doll?”

“Put it this way: When she finds you, you’ll wish I’d had you land in that volcano.”

“But, I’ll bet she thinks it was worth it.” I followed the coordinates. Nice, smooth landing strip. No volcano in sight.

“Not sure. I imagine you can find out yourself. We let her know you were here.” She had that tone, the one women get when they’ve really shoved it to you and are happy about it.

“You related to Zahara?”

“No. Not at all.”

I pondered. It’d been a while since I’d been on Thurge. It wasn’t exactly the garden spot of the Delta Quadrant, and there wasn’t a big call for black market magma. We were only back here because our current job required us to pick up a supply of the only thing Thurge had to offer. “Uh, Carolita?”

“Wow, you remember me. Enjoy catching up with Zahara.”

Not so good. I remembered Carolita. Amazing in the sack. Nasty, nasty temper out of it. Probably why she was so great in the sack. “Carolita, how you been, babe?”

“Captain Outland?”


“I’m going to enjoy watching what Zahara does to you.”

I pondered. I could stay, get the magma I had a legitimate order for, and risk the wrath of Zahara, Carolita and, as memories came back, a whole lot of other girls who might not be inclined positively towards me. Or I could leave and find another way to make money.



“To you, Zahara, and all the other Thurge girls I’ve loved before—goodbye and good luck.”

“Vessel three-three-six-nine you are cleared for takeoff. Don’t let our planet’s atmosphere hit your tail on the way out.”

What can I say? My Great-Aunt Clara always said discretion was the better part of valor. Never too late to listen to her sage advice, right?

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